By Mark Clark, CEO of Generations For Peace
On 9 December 2015, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a ground-breaking resolution – UNSCR 2250 (2015) – on Youth, Peace and Security.
The resolution recognises that “young people play an important and positive role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security”. It identifies five key pillars for action: participation, protection, prevention, partnerships, disengagement and reintegration. This landmark resolution urges Member States to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at the local, national, regional and international levels. It also encourages them to set up mechanisms to enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes.
The Security Council also requests the Secretary-General of the United Nations to carry out a study on young people’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution. It urges Member States to “increase, as appropriate, their political, financial, technical and logistical support, that take account of the needs and participation of youth in peace efforts, in conflict and post-conflict situations, including those undertaken by relevant entities, funds and programmes, and other relevant bodies (…) and actors at regional and international levels.”
The resolution followed a high-level thematic debate at the Security Council chaired by Crown Prince Al Hussein of Jordan; his hosting of the August 2015 Global Forum on Youth Peace and Security in Amman, co-organised by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, UN and civil society partners; as well as advocacy by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Youth, Ahmad Al Hendawi (from Jordan).
Generations For Peace youth leaders from around the world participated in that Global Forum, and Generations For Peace strongly supports the resulting Amman Declaration and the subsequent UNSCR 2250. As a Jordanian international NGO, Generations For Peace is extremely proud of Jordan’s leading role in the development of UNSCR 2250, and it is committed to turning the words of the resolution into action.
Generations For Peace programmes around the world offer examples of concrete activities implementing UNSCR 2250, translating the words of the resolution into grass-roots actions at the community level: engaging youth to lead positive change in their own communities to reduce violence and transform conflict.
UNSCR 2282 (2016) on the Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture refers explicitly to UNSCR 2250, reaffirms “the important role youth can play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and as a key aspect of the sustainability, inclusiveness and success of peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts”, and calls upon “Member States and relevant United Nations organs and entities to consider ways to increase meaningful and inclusive participation of youth in peacebuilding efforts (…)”. Likewise, UNSCR 2250 urges Member States “to facilitate an inclusive and enabling environment in which youth actors from different backgrounds, are recognised and provided with adequate support to implement violence prevention activities and support social cohesion”.
All Generations For Peace programmes around the world promote four values that contribute to youth-led prevention of conflict: Youth Leadership, Community Empowerment, Active Tolerance and Responsible Citizenship. The first of these, Youth Leadership, highlights our deep conviction that youth represent enormous untapped potential in many communities; however, too often they are seen as either a “problem” to be fixed, or they are instrumentalised without really being engaged and listened to. We believe that their potential is realised through genuine empowerment, which must go beyond training and workshops. Indeed, across the diverse range of countries we work in, we find that many youth feel they have been ‘work-shopped to death’, so much so that their attendance at such workshops has become a purely cynical, individual exercise in certificate-gathering to build their resumés.
In fact, at Generations For Peace, we believe that training alone leads to no real impact in communities. It is only through high quality training of rigorously selected youth leaders, complemented by an ongoing, deep relationship of mentoring and support with direct experiences in leadership of programme design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation, that communities consistently see an extraordinary impact.
Indeed, youth leadership and responsible citizenship are not best taught and developed in classroom lectures, but rather by supporting experiential learning by doing. Generations For Peace’s sustained youth-led behaviour-change activities create opportunities for youth to be trusted and to demonstrate their leadership and responsible citizenship. This includes transforming personal capacities and relationships, fostering positive values and positive group fusion, strengthening social capital and resilience, transforming conflict, and reducing violence and vulnerability at the grass-roots level in communities around the world.
In this regard, we are heeding UNSCR 2250’s call for Member States and all relevant actors to not only “support (…) quality education for peace that equips youth with the ability to engage constructively in civic structures and inclusive political processes”, but also the institution of “mechanisms to promote a culture of peace, tolerance, intercultural and interreligious dialogue that involve youth”.
Those involved in youth engagement for peace-building must work extremely hard to engage youth beyond the affluent, easy-to-reach urban communities, especially when it comes to those more directly involved in violence, as perpetrators of violence and as victims of violence (recognising that very often perpetrators of violence are also themselves victims of violence). In this sense, we at Generations For Peace believe it is not sufficient to “dance with the beautiful people”; we must strive to gain access to those involved in violence by building trust and credibility and demonstrating our long-term commitment to youth and their communities, through successive programme cycles over many years.
Despite the work of Generations For Peace around the world, the potential and contribution of young people to help transform conflict, reduce violence, and build sustainable peace in their communities remains poorly understood. To overcome this gap, Resolution 2250 mandates that the Secretary General of the United Nations carry out a Progress Study on youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution, in order to recommend effective responses at local, national, regional and international levels.
The study is being undertaken as an independent, evidence-based and participatory research process, and it will produce an operational report proposing a forward-looking agenda for the international community. The Progress Study will serve an important function in modelling new forms of engagement and collaboration between the UN and external stakeholders.
Young people must be given an opportunity to substantively contribute to discussions on major peace and security issues facing their communities, including identifying solutions and indicators of progress for the youth, peace and security agenda. The participatory nature of the study will reflect the value, importance and practice of consulting young people as a way to redress their historical marginalisation and political exclusion.
The Progress Study will be an essential contribution to the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the advancement, in particular of “peaceful, just and inclusive societies” – by fostering the contributions of young people to conflict prevention, social justice, reconciliation, inclusion and peace at large. The Progress Study, through a strong focus on the role of young people in conflict prevention (one of the five pillars of SCR 2250), will also contribute to “sustaining peace” as recently defined by United Nations Member States at the conclusion of the 2015 Peacebuilding Architecture Review.
Importantly, in addition to this substantive contribution to new global policy agendas, the study will be firmly anchored to an analysis of how young women and men are involved in peacebuilding practices on the ground and will propose concrete operational directions for the peace and security community to work with young people in radically new ways.
Generations For Peace is proud to be a member of the UN Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding, and to participate directly in the Progress Study. The findings and recommendations will be presented to the Security Council, through a Report of the Secretary-General, which is planned for December 2017, on the second anniversary of the resolution.
For more details:
Click here to access UNSCR 2250 (2015) on Youth, Peace and Security in all official UN languages
Click here to visualise the UNSCR 2250 Infographics
Click here to read the Amman Youth Declaration (2015)
Click here to access UNSCR 2282 (2016) on the Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture
Click here for more information about the Progress Study on Youth, Peace & Security
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